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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

YAHAs like newspapers, but more important, want news they can trust

With so much information available over the Internet, how are people supposed to know which sources are reliable?

That was one of many thoughtful questions posed before, during and after my chat today with more than 50 YAHAs in Saratoga Springs.
The YAHAs, every one of them eligible for AARP discounts, gathered this afternoon at Longfellows for beef stroganoff, chocolate cake and a chance to chat with the editor of their hometown paper.
I left hungry for more conversation, but grateful for the opportunity to speak with the YAHAs — Young at Heart Adults, most affiliated with the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church in Saratoga Springs — who stay young in part by socializing once a month over a meal and a featured speaker.
Before everyone settled in for lunch I took a photo on my iPhone and tweeted. How many of you are following me on Twitter, I asked. Not one hand went up. How many of you use Twitter? Ditto.
OK, no tweeters among these lifelong print aficionados, but many who look online for news. One gentleman said he gets all his Saratogian news online. And he’s glad it’s free.  
Which brings us to the YAHA who asked how people can tell what to believe online, noting a tongue-in-cheek commercial that says, “If it’s on the Internet it must be true.”
The answer is at the heart of my optimism about the future of newspapers … er, news providers. Established news organizations like The Saratogian take seriously their responsibility to provide information that is accurate both in fact and context. Reporters’ stories attribute the sources of information, so you know where it’s coming from. We take pains to use trustworthy sources to earn the trust of readers and establish ourselves as reliable sources of information.
Sure, we make mistakes. We aim high and sometimes miss. We can’t always get the whole story, at least not right away, for lack of time or dependable sources.
But we can tell stories better than ever these days, updating the news as it develops, correcting as needed, linking to more information, and sharing instant feedback and suggestions.
More than 50 Young at Heart Adults -- YAHAs -- gathered Jan. 15 for lunch
at Longfellows , where we talked about community newspapering,
The Saratogian, the role of the editor and the future of journalism.
Our coverage of the state’s landmark gun control legislation passed today is a case in point, with stories updated online last evening as the Senate voted and today through the Assembly vote. Text messaging with legislative aides enabled us to report last night’s action as it happened, and we cobbled together a short story right on our press deadline (OK, a few minutes past) to get the Senate vote into print.
We have planned a print front page for tomorrow that tackles various aspects of the legislation, but the basic stories have been online throughout today. Though we aspire to always be digital first, we take pride in our print product. But the concept of the front page as the frozen-in-time record of historic moments has become increasingly quaint.


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